The network structure of our system has changed over the years. Broadly speaking it has changed from a Mainframe system to a distributed, network system.

In a mainframe system there's a central machine on which all the programs are run. In a typical distributed system, the programs are run on the machine the user is sat at - the users perhaps sharing resources like printers, etc. Each system has pros and cons

Many of the choices are cost-driven. Now that so many users carry their computers with them, and "cloud computing" is more common, the structure may be changing again. The moral of the story is - expect change!


Updated September 2010
Tim Love